No matter what industry you are in, you need effective ‘tools’ and the skills to use them in order to be successful. In dentistry and facial aesthetics, it’s no different. There is such a wide range of products and equipment available (which I will reference throughout as ‘tools’) – and it can sometimes seem impossible to know which to choose to accompany your provision. However, it is essential that the ‘tools’ you utilise are of the highest standard and achieve the best results.
After all, it just takes one poor choice in product, or one unreliable piece of equipment, to take a patient from their desired outcome to an unsuccessful result. We all know that only a bad workman (or workwoman) blames their tools, however you wouldn't be a good workman if you didn’t first at least ensure that you were using the right tools.
From major recognisable brands to leading manufacturers with cheaper ‘own brand’ alternatives, every company wants you to think that what they offer is the best and superior to all others. But they can’t all be, so we must employ our own professional judgement in deciding which will suit us most and which will offer the most successful and predictable results time after time.
Given that there is so much choice out there, how exactly do you do this?
A fundamental question when choosing should be, “Does it do the job I need it to? And will it do so reliably and consistently?” If you were to ask your product rep I’m sure they would say, “Yes, of course” – unless they have an alternative item to sell. But the only way to find out for sure is to try and test it out first hand.
But, before doing so it may be prudent to take note of the following considerations:
Firstly, this can be something of a subjective term. Not specifically related to that which is the cheapest, rather the items that provide the best value for money. Of course, it can be easy to simply choose the product that appears to give you the highest quantity for the lowest cost, but this can lead you into problems later down the line.
Indeed, for something to be cost effective it will need to be reliable, have a well-thought out delivery system that minimises wastage, deliver consistent results and have a price that is relative to its quality. For instance, you might expect a single use disposable item to be far cheaper in comparison to a piece of equipment you would use over and again throughout your career. But, if the quality of results you achieve with a cheaper product is substandard and means you have to invest in more expensive products to rectify any issues, this negates any potential savings you might have made.
Ease of use
One of the main advantages in offering facial aesthetic treatments such as botulin toxins or dermal fillers is their relative ease of use and application (which in turn make for more cost effective treatments through time savings). However these benefits will be negated through poor product choices. On the other hand, products that have been designed with ergonomics and function in mind will be far more intuitive and natural to use, but this often comes with a higher price tag. In some instances this expense is justified, as those that are not designed with these considerations are likely to deliver results of a lower standard.
Familiarity with new ‘tools’ and understanding their compatibility with your own personal work processes are also essential factors to consider. Some clinicians like to stick with what they used in their training or have a long-standing familiarity with, whilst others will be constantly looking for new and innovative products. It is worth thinking about the time it may take to become accustomed to new products or equipment and whether any workshops or further training are required to utilise them properly.
One of the best sources of reliable information will come from recommendations from colleagues, peers and trainers. Before investing, it is wise to ask fellow clinicians to share their opinions and experience and for any advice or suggestions. It is also well worth visiting trade shows and exhibitions, as new products and equipment are often launched at these events alongside special promotional offers.
Finally, it is essential that all products and equipment you use have the appropriate certification and comply with all the required regulation and legislation. Look out for CE marks and any symbols or logos that certify quality. There are often horror stories in the news around forged or inferior products that have been imported into the country from foreign manufacturers. This rise in counterfeit products poses a real risk to both patient and practitioner due to the lack of regulation, certification and accountability. The trick here is to not be tempted when an offer looks too good to be true. A product that would normally cost £700 is unlikely to be genuine if sold for £50.
Ultimately you want to use ‘tools’ that will help make the service and treatments you offer faster, easier and better for the patient. So by taking into account practicality, cost, ease of use, compatibility, peer recommendations and manufacturer’s certification you can begin to ensure that the treatments and services you offer will not be let down by the products and equipment you choose to use.
Dr Nadine Skipp is the Principal and Founder of AURA Centre of Dental Excellence and Facial Aesthetics in Kingston Upon Thames. Having trained with leading experts from across the dental profession in the US, UK and internationally, Dr Skipp has fulfilled many educational roles throughout the industry, and was awarded a Fellowship from the International Academy for Dental and Facial Esthetics in 2014. She is also partner of SOURCE1uk - Dental Recruitment, Training Courses, Classifieds and Practice Sales.